Leaving Corporate America and Co-Founding my Own Agency
Do you ever feel like you are managing a million things, yet failing miserably?
Welcome to what I like to call “that time in my life I was trying to be an executive and mom, while struggling with postpartum depression and anxiety.”
My story isn’t an original one- in fact I hear the stress of balancing the two from just about every working mother I speak to, but to me, it was crippling. My mental health, which had already been in flux, was suffering and my coping skills (or lack thereof) weren’t helping. I wasn’t sure what I path I would take, but I knew it needed to be something drastic if I was going to survive.
As luck would have it, just before I went on maternity leave, I had met a journalist a few months prior, a woman who had worked in news for over a decade. She was burnt out on the hours that came along with being a morning anchor and the relocation that was imminent every few years. We discussed our industry often, and I loved to get her perspective as she represented the “other side of the desk.” We often discussed how the combination of my background as a PR strategist and her experience in media brought together two really important elements of communications, yet we didn’t see that combination represented in our industry. My last day of working in corporate America came on the same day of my last panic attack. It was also the same day Britt, my journalist friend, was one of many company layoffs. Together, we decided to establish our own agency, where we would marry the knowledge of a strategist with the insight of a journalist: Rein Communications was born.
Britt Conway and I, 2018.
The following week, Britt came to Charlotte from Atlanta. We were two women who were highly qualified and experienced in our industry, but had zero idea how to start a business. We poured over library books and government websites, filing papers, writing plans and figuring out how to start an agency- with literally zero money. We had enough to purchase business cards, a website URL and we put new (refurbished) laptops on our credit cards and got to work. I would love to say the rest is history, but that would be a gross underrepresentation of the late nights, fears, disappointments and hard conversations to get Rein Communications to where it is today. Though I am now the sole owner of the agency, Britt is still actively involved as our Director of Media Insights as well as a full time journalist at CNN in Atlanta. Our team has grown; we continue to work with clients nationwide and love every day of it.
People, particularly women, often ask me how I got the courage to leave the corporate world and take the risks that come with starting a business from nothing. I tell them that it wasn't courage- I didn’t jump into entrepreneurship because I was brave, confident in my ability to set the world on fire. I was pushed off the ledge, and my options were either to fly or plummet to the ground. I had to believe I could soar.
What I love about owning my own business is that I get to choose the clients we work with and determine if public relations is going to actually move their business forward. I also love being able to decide when I go to an office and when I wear pajamas all day.
My advice to other working moms and mom-preneurs is this:
Laugh a lot. Realize that you will never be able to work, shower, workout, clean and spend quality time with your kids in one day. Give yourself grace.
There. is. no. such. thing. as. work. life. balance.
Sometimes you work 70 hour weeks, other times you go on vacation and only check emails. I think being flexible and recognizing where to prioritize is the best you can do. Once we let go of the pressure in finding balance we give ourselves permission to both rest and grind when needed.